Saudi Academic Given 30 Years in Prison for Tweets

A Saudi court has given the lecturer in the Media Department at Umm Al-Qura University, Professor Muhammad bin Mohsen Basra, a 30-year prison sentence for Twitter posts calling for free speech three years ago.

Professor Muhammad bin Mohsen Basra was arbitrary arrested in mysterious circumstances early in December, where he was taken to an unknown detention center.

A few days later, he appeared before a Saudi court, where he was sentenced to 30 years in prison in a trial that violates fair trial standards.

Basra was detained over tweets criticising normalization with the Israeli occupation and calling for reconciliation with Qatar and removing restrictions on freedom of speech in the Kingdom.

Basra was detained after being reported by citizens using the Snitching App Kollona Amn, meaning “we are all security” in Arabic, that lets ordinary people play the role of a police officer to suppress the opponent voices on social media.

The same fate was also faced by the Saudi woman Salma al-Shehab who was sentenced to 34 years in prison for a tweet appears to have been denounced to Saudi authorities through the same crime-reporting app.

Together for Justice condemned the prison sentence against the academic Muhammad bin Mohsen Basra as an arbitrary and unfair decision based on flimsy evidence and false testimonies that were exacted after being subjected to psychological pressure and physical torture during the illegal interrogation sessions that his lawyers did not attend.

In this regard, we call on the UN bodies, international civil society organisations, and decision-makers around the world to intervene urgently to allow special rapporteurs’ access to the Saudi prisons and detention centers in order to check on the prisoners’ detention conditions and investigate the violations they are subjected to.

The human rights situation is getting darker in Saudi Arabia in light of the international community’s passive position towards the Kingdom’s poor human rights record.

Thus, we stress the urgent need for a serious action to put an end to the growing human rights violations being reported in the Kingdom amid total impunity.

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